Long-time lèse-majesté detainee released on bail

The Bangkok Military Court has allowed long-time lèse-majesté detainee Siraphop Kornaroot to be released on bail, said Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. He was released at 19.30 today (11 June). 

Siraphop with his wife and daughter after his release

Siraphop, a ‘red-shirt’ activist and a writer using the pseudonym “Roongsila”, was charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crimes Act for his poems and for other online messages. He has been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison for almost five years – the longest time for a person currently charged or serving a prison sentence under Article 112.  His trial before the Bangkok Military Court has been ongoing since 24 September 2014 and all 20 previous court hearings were held behind closed doors. His previous bail petitions were also repeatedly denied.

On 24 April 2019, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared Siraphop’s detention arbitrary, and called on the Thai government to immediately release him and accord him compensation and other reparation. The WGAD found that he was detained under legislation that violates international human rights law and that his detention was unacceptably long and did not meet international standards. It also found that the Bangkok Military Court’s refusal to grant Siraphop bail is a violation of his fundamental right to liberty and the right to a fair trial. It therefore concluded that the Bangkok Military Court’s actions did not suggest that it would treat Siraphop’s case in an impartial manner.

Since the 2014 military coup, 144 people have been charged under the Computer Crimes Act for political expression, and 169 people have been charged under Article 112. Many Article 112 defendants received lengthy prison terms, with a number being sentenced up to 35 years.